Cardinals tweet goodbyes before conclave lockdown


05:20 PM March 12th, 2013

March 12th, 2013 05:20 PM

From left, US Cardinals Justin Francis Rigali, Donald Wuerl, Timothy Dolan, Francis George and Roger Mahony leave the North American College to go to the Vatican’s Domus Sanctae Martae, the Vatican hotel where the cardinals stay during the conclave, in Rome, Tuesday March 12, 2013. Cardinals enter the Sistine Chapel on Tuesday to elect the next pope amid more upheaval and uncertainty than the Catholic Church has seen in decades: There’s no front-runner, no indication how long voting will last and no sense that a single man has what it takes to fix the many problems. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

VATICAN CITY—Cardinals entering the Vatican on Tuesday ahead of a conclave to elect the next pope took to Twitter to say goodbye to their online flock before they are cut off from the outside world.

“Last tweet before conclave: May Our Father hear and answer with love and mercy all prayers and sacrifices offered for fruitful outcome. God bless!” South African cardinal Wilfrid Napier told his thousands of followers.

Cardinals will be completely isolated inside the Vatican walls for the duration of the conclave, which could last up to a few days.

Jamming devices in the Sistine Chapel block all communications and the Vatican has said anyone caught tweeting will be excommunicated.

Before moving to the Vatican residence where the 115 cardinal electors will eat and sleep during the conclave, US cardinal Roger Mahony wrote: “Last tweet before moving to Casa Santa Martha, and mass to elect a pope.

“First conclave meeting late Tuesday afternoon. Prayers needed,” he said.

Pierre Durieux, spokesman for France’s Philippe Barbarin, tweeted to say that the three French cardinals had entered the Vatican and now: “A big silence”.

Sister Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed concern on her account saying: “In this electronic age, I worry some cardinals may go into iPad and Twitter withdrawal.”

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